Holidaymaker, 28, at five-star hotel hit with £25,000 bill after falsely claiming she had suffered food poisoning

A 28-year-old holidaymaker from Wales has been ordered to pay £25,000 to Thomson, after a court found that she lied about getting sick to claim compensation.

The case, revealed today by Money Mail, serves as a serious warning to Britons going abroad this summer.

Over the past year, tens of thousands of families have submitted sickness claims, often encouraged by law firms promising big payouts — but many are suspected of exaggerating their symptoms.

Now, those caught lying face huge legal bills — and even prison sentences.

Fraudulent claims: Over the past year, tens of thousands of families have submitted sickness claims, often encouraged by law firms promising big payouts

Amy Hughes, from Holyhead in North Wales, spent 11 days at the five-star Iberotel Palace hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with two friends in July 2011.

Two years after returning home, in July 2013, she made a compensation claim for sickness against Thomson through a North Wales law firm.

She claimed she had been ill while staying at the hotel and had not eaten anywhere else. The case was due to be heard in court last October, but Mrs Hughes dropped her claim at the 11th hour without any explanation.

Thomson told Money Mail that after investigating, it had discovered Mrs Hughes had eaten only a small number of breakfasts at the hotel, while a friend had confirmed to the travel company that she had eaten Chinese food in the resort.

Mrs Hughes denied this, but Thomson decided it had enough evidence to pursue her through the courts for costs it had incurred building a defence.

On July 5, a Recorder at Wrexham County Court ordered that Mrs Hughes had been ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and must pay the holiday giant £25,000 by 4pm on October 6.

When Money Mail contacted Mrs Hughes, she declined to comment, but acknowledged the outcome of the case. The law firm that represented her, Tudur Owen Roberts Glynne & Co, also declined to comment.

The travel industry has launched a major crackdown on British tourists staying at all-inclusive hotels abroad. Firms suspect no-win, no-fee law firms of encouraging travellers to submit food poisoning claims — often years after they’ve returned from their holiday.


Immediately inform the hotel and your tour operator. Keep doctors’ notes and prescription receipts, and make a diary of symptoms and any communication with the hotel or travel firm.

Take photos of anything to support your claim, such as food left uncovered or dirty restaurants. Find out if other guests have suffered similar symptoms. Ask for their contact details.

In the UK, complain to the tour operator directly. Under UK Package Travel Regulations, they can be held responsible for service failings.

If it wasn’t a package holiday, you must make a claim against the hotel direct. Detail the dates of your stay and any expenses or missed excursions. You have three years to make a claim.

Beware that if you use a claims management company, it will take a big chunk of any compensation awarded.

If you aren’t satisfied with the response, call Abta on 020 3117 0500 to ask for advice or complain at

If your tour operator is not in Abta, you can pursue the claim in the small claims court.

And some hoteliers in Spain and Portugal have even threatened to ban British visitors, who have been targeted by ambulance-chasers in ‘claims clinic’ vans outside hotel premises.

Writing on the side of the van says: ‘Sick abroad? Have you been poisoned, norovirus, salmonella, e-coli & gastroenteritis.

No win no fee. Claim today — ask for details.’ Deluged with claims, tour operators such as Thomson and Thomas Cook are hiring expensive lawyers to fight back.

One couple have appeared in a criminal court in the UK after they tried to claim £52,000 from Thomas Cook for food poisoning on two all-inclusive holidays in Majorca, while Thomas Cook this month won a court case against a couple who claimed for sickness in Gran Canaria in 2013.

Nick Longman, managing director of Thomson parent company TUI UK & Ireland, says the firm is pursuing other customers over cases similar to Amy Hughes’s, and is looking at making private prosecutions.

He says: ‘This sends a clear message to anyone considering making a fraudulent or exaggerated claim, and it’s really important everyone fully understands there are consequences of doing so.’

Julie Lavelle, 33, and her partner Michael McIntyre, 34, demanded £10,000 after falsely claiming they and their two children had vomiting and diarrhoea during their stay at the Parque Cristobal Hotel on Gran Canaria (pictured)

Two weeks ago, a couple from Liverpool were ordered to pay £3,744 in costs to Thomas Cook after a court threw out their sickness claim and found they had been fundamentally dishonest.

Julie Lavelle, 33, and her partner Michael McIntyre, 34, told Liverpool County Court they and their two children — then aged three years and 14 months — had experienced sickness, diarrhoea and vomiting during a two-week stay at the Parque Cristobal Hotel, in Gran Canaria, in 2013.

The judge found there was no credible evidence of this and dismissed their demand for up to £10,000 in compensation.

The couple had argued that their symptoms had lasted from the third day of the holiday until after they returned to the UK.

Yet Ms Lavelle said she had not mentioned their difficulties to hotel staff or sought medical treatment, other than self-medicating with Dioralyte rehydration salts and Calpol children’s painkiller.

The first Thomas Cook heard of the family being ill was when it got a letter from solicitors Bridger & Co of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, in May 2016 — almost three years after the holiday.

After investigating, Thomas Cook found Michael McIntyre had completed a feedback questionnaire on the flight home that claimed the service had been ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

He told the court this was because he had drunk six pints of lager and ticked the boxes randomly to put a favourable gloss on the holiday so he would be more likely to benefit from a prize draw incentive for handing in the form.

Chris Mottershead, managing director of Thomas Cook UK, says: ‘It’s not comfortable for us to be in court questioning our customers’ credibility, but the significant increase in unreported illness claims being received by the travel industry threatens holidays for all UK customers.

‘This case follows an increasingly common pattern, with a previously unreported illness being raised years after the holiday with no medical or other evidence to support the illness having occurred.’

The couple and solicitors at Bridger & Co declined to comment.

A spokesman for Abta says: ‘Travel companies are becoming wiser to fraudulent sickness claims and are now able to spot the signs of a fraudulent claim. Tour operators and hoteliers are keeping tighter records of sickness reports.

‘Anyone who is considering making a fraudulent claim should be aware that if they are found out, it is a criminal offence and they could end up in jail.’

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